The COVID-19 pandemic marked the meteoric rise of the virtual classroom at all levels of education, with students and faculty navigating new technologies and learning formats. Spring 2020 finals loomed as colleges and universities tackled the emergency pivot to online education. Preserving assessment integrity in a remote environment became tantamount to safeguarding exam content, preparing students for graduation, and maintaining accreditation status.
On the issue of preventing academic dishonesty during remote exams, a recent article published by Times Higher Education posed the question, “Is technology or authentic assessment the answer?” The article goes on to describe remote proctoring solutions as “an artificial life-support system for a dying type of assessment: the invigilated exam” and an impediment to authentic assessment, which emphasizes the application of knowledge over simple knowledge recall, thereby discouraging academic dishonesty. Below we discuss how these areas can work together – authentic assessment and proctoring are not mutually exclusive.
A Look at Remote Proctoring Technology
When testing in person isn’t an option, remote proctoring technologies can facilitate a secure assessment environment for high-stakes exams. Depending on the software, these solutions provide proctoring services for remote exams, disable access to web browsers and other programs, or may even employ A.I. to help monitor individual exam sessions.
While most remote proctoring technologies are used to simulate an in-person exam environment with a live proctor, they do not always require educators to deliver a specific type of assessment. Proctoring solutions provide the same security features to exams that rely on simple recall as to those that require more in-depth knowledge application. In other words, educators are not limited to multiple-choice type testing with remote proctoring technologies. These technologies can be just as effective for delivering assessments that prompt exam-takers to analyze, interpret, and reflect on exam material or to show their work and explain the rationale behind their answers.
Authentic assessment and remote proctoring technologies can, in fact, co-exist. And when implemented together, educators can assess higher-level learning outcomes while also protecting the integrity of high-stakes assessment.
Authentic Assessment Definition
What are the qualities of authentic assessment that guard against academic dishonesty? Wiley Education Services writes that authentic assessment “requires students to apply what they’ve learned in a new, complex circumstance or situation.” Authentic assessment goes beyond rote memorization, asking exam-takers to demonstrate their knowledge by addressing an authentic, real-world scenario. To correctly answer an authentic assessment item, exam-takers must remember course material and also implement it appropriately, thus calling upon more complex cognitive skills.
Authentic assessment items can take different formats depending on the field of study. For instance, an assessment for a law school or medical program may present exam-takers with a sequence of short-answer questions in reference to a single case study. Since items of this kind require analysis of source material and call upon exam-takers to apply their understanding, a web search or cheat sheet is unlikely to provide the correct answers.
Authoring Authentic Assessment
By emphasizing the application of knowledge, authentic assessment is useful for promoting security in a remote environment. But one of the main benefits of this assessment type is its ability to place exam-takers in scenarios that they are likely to encounter as professionals. Identifying learning objectives is essential to authoring authentic assessment and fostering career readiness.
Learning objectives define the skills necessary to complete a course or pass a summative exam, which relate to performing daily tasks as a professional. The key is linking these objectives to “actionable” assessment items that prompt learners to analyze and apply their knowledge. Instead of relying on multiple-choice items, for example, educators may use scenario-based projects or word problems to measure student learning or create items that require the interpretation of charts, graphs, or research-based findings.
After identifying item types that best support authentic assessment, educators can tag items to learning outcomes to ensure their exams are well-rounded in the skills necessary for career success. Item-tagging allows educators to generate reports that break down performance by learning outcome, thus revealing opportunities to improve teaching and learning strategies for specific content areas.
Scoring Authentic Assessment
Because authentic assessment typically involves more complex learning outcomes — think the top tiers of Bloom’s Taxonomy — it requires a more subjective criteria for scoring. While it’s easy to enable features like auto-grading for multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank items, these question types usually apply to lower-level outcomes like memory and comprehension. Real-world scenarios and case studies involve more complex skills like knowledge application and analysis but require a more hands-on approach to scoring.
For performance-based types of authentic assessment — including essays, presentations, and portfolios — rubrics can help to streamline scoring. An effective strategy for developing rubrics is to consider how the assessment relates to a professional task and identify the actions necessary to complete that task successfully. These actions can then serve as the basis for performance criteria. With the help of a digital rubrics tool, educators can create custom performance criteria to evaluate assessments more objectively and link these criteria to learning outcomes to gain performance insights.
Secure, Offline Assessment — From Anywhere
Beyond providing educators with item-tagging tools, a variety of question types, and convenient grading options, some digital assessment solutions are equipped with flexible security features to deliver exams in any environment, whether in-person or remote. A digital solution designed to administer secure, remote assessment can help educators track performance by course objectives, author exams that demonstrate higher-level content mastery, and preserve academic integrity to ensure that valuable exam material is protected.
ExamSoft offers powerful security features for both in-person and remote assessments, disabling access to everything but the exam with complete device control. Additional solutions available through ExamSoft — ExamID and ExamMonitor — further enhance security in a remote environment and eliminate the need for live proctors. With the combination of ExamSoft’s auto-identity verification tool and A.I.-powered remote proctoring software, exam administrators can digitally verify exam-taker identity from any location and review recorded exam sessions for instances of academic dishonesty.
While there are many solutions for remote proctoring available, ExamMonitor alone is built into Examplify, ExamSoft’s testing application, ensuring that educators have access to every exam management feature within the ExamSoft portal while also delivering the accountability of remote proctoring.
Deliver Authentic Assessment with ExamSoft
So, is technology or authentic assessment the answer? With ExamSoft, you don’t have to choose.
Request a demo to learn how ExamSoft’s holistic platform can help you create authentic assessment and protect exam integrity in any setting.